Dr. Tindall's Research

Physical Analog Modeling of Mountain Systems
 
Overview:

The study of geology is complicated by the enormous length of time involved in most geologic processes.  Continents move, environments migrate, and mountain systems grow over the course of millions of years, so scientists cannot observe these processes from start to finish - at least, not in nature.  However, it is possible to ‘model’ geologic processes in a laboratory, where the size of the experiment, the strength of the materials used, and the time required for the geologic process are scaled down equally from their natural analogs.  Physical analog modeling results in features like faults, folds, mountains, and basins that closely resemble those observed in nature, with the added benefit that the researcher can observe the entire process from start to finish, can stop the experiment at any time, and can slice (section) the model to examine it from all angles, inside and out. 

In my physical analog modeling lab, my students and I study processes that affect the growth and structure of major mountain systems.  Click on the photos or project titles to learn more about the research.  Names with hyperlinks lead to current information about the research participants.

 

Above: Cross sections through a model of a mountain system with progressive orogenic curvature
Project:  Needle, Mattathias D.,
Tindall, Sarah E., and Sussman, A. J., 2010, A deeper look into orogenic curvature: analog models in cross section: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 42, no. 5, p. 34.
 
Above: Vertical slice through a lateral facies change model
Below: Students Meghan and Natalie in the modeling lab

Project: Ryan, M. M., Dowdy, N. L., and Tindall, S. E., 2014, Effects of a lateral facies change on structural patterns in physical models: Abstracts with Programs – Geological Society of America, v. 46, no. 6, p. 154.

Above: Overhead photo of surface faults developed in a lateral facies change model
Below:
Eric Stecker presenting his research poster at a Geological Society of America meeting in Charlotte, NC
Project: Stecker, E. C. and Tindall, S. E., 2012, Influence of mechanical stratigraphy on thrust belt morphology in physical models: Abstracts with Programs – Geological Society of America, v. 44, no. 7, p. 238.      
Above: Overhead photograph of primary orogenic curvature model
Project: Needle, Mattathias D., Tindall, Sarah E., and Sussman, A. J., 2010, Physical modeling of primary and progressive orogenic curvature: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 42, no. 1, p. 87.
     
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